A New Vaccine Eats Cocaine "Like Pac-Man" to Kick Addiction

Illustration for article titled A New Vaccine Eats Cocaine "Like Pac-Man" to Kick Addiction

Cocaine addictions, which carry a notoriously high relapse rate, may have finally met their match in the form of a simple, long lasting booster vaccine.


By combining particles that mimic the structure of cocaine with the common cold virus, the new vaccine tricks your body into recognizing cocaine as a threat, prompting it to go into attack mode. Or as Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of the Department of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College puts it:

The vaccine eats up the cocaine in the blood like a little Pac-man before it can reach the brain... Even if a person who receives the anti-cocaine vaccine falls off the wagon, cocaine will have no effect.

The research was initially carried out on mice, but the real promise came in its next incarnation: taking the edge off coked out primates. Just one vaccine was able to last up to seven weeks in these non-human drug fiends, so a set series of booster shots has a very high chance of ensuring that human addicts won't go back to riding the white pony, no matter how hard they try.

Of course, until we do run human trials, we'll have no real idea of how effective the vaccine would be nor how often it would need to be administered. But for cocaine addicts dedicated to breaking the vicious cycle of withdrawal and relapse, these injections could be a life saver. [The Daily Mail]



For years now I've lived convinced that a vaccine is kind of a neutered virus that teaches the immune system how to resist the non-neutered version of said virus. I can't possibly know more about vaccines than Dr. Ronald Crystal, so I gather I've been spectacularly wrong all this time.